Master Class on the Queer Middle Ages and Research for Social Justice 

On Thursday, April 11th, Professor Steven Kruger spoke to Fordham undergraduate and graduate students about his early career and research in medieval literature.  Dr. Kruger, visiting from CUNY Graduate Center, Queen’s College, New York, discussed his development as a scholar and his approach to writing.  Importantly, he addressed the significance of historical research that contributes meaningfully to present-day cultural issues.

The Master Class was inspired by undergraduate coursework done by this year’s Freshmen Honors cohort in the English Department. Upon reading Kruger’s article, “Claiming the Pardoner,” written in 1994, students wondered how Kruger might add to his views on Geoffrey Chaucer’s enigmatic character 25 years later.


Dr. Kruger specializes in gender, sexuality, feminist and queer theory, and medieval literature.  Dr. Kruger's publications include many articles on these topics, as well as book-length studies including AIDS Narratives: Gender and Sexuality, Fiction and Science; Queering the Middle Ages (co-ed. with Glenn Burger); and The Spectral Jew: Conversion and Embodiment in Medieval Europe.

We are grateful for the support of Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies, the Department of English, and graduate student David Smigen-Rothkopf whose gorgeous flier artwork is featured here.


Fordham Teaching Fellow Releases Book

Congratulations to Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow and English PhD alum Caroline Hagood, whose book Ways of Looking at a Woman will be released March 1st by Hanging Loose Press, the same publishing house that launched such notable authors as Maggie Nelson and Sherman Alexie.

In Ways of Looking at a Woman, a book-length essay that interweaves memoir with film and literary history, Hagood assumes the role of detective to ask, what is a “woman,” “mother,” and “writer”? By turns smart, funny, and poignant, Ways of Looking at a Woman is a profound meditation on the many mysterious layers that make up both a book and a person.

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Here’s what people are saying:

“A profoundly unique and honest piece of work, somehow executed with an astonishing lack of ego. She will break your heart with her naked sincerity; a masterful, singular writer who sheds light with every page.”

—Mary-Louise Parker

“This book is for the poetry lovers whose brains have gone fractured after childbirth, fractured by love and focus and television and books, every influence jostling for precious space. Is this a poem? Is it a memoir? Is it a book on art and motherhood and love? Yes. I’ll shelve it next to Maggie Nelson, on the shelf marked Necessary.”

—Emma Straub

“A riveting portrait of a mind at work. Referencing high and low culture, family, academic syllabi, and most importantly, her body, Hagood has made something entirely new and all her own.”

—Elisa Albert

Congratulations to Dr. Hagood on this fantastic accomplishment. For more information on her book, click here:

Doctoral Student Danielle Sottosanti Attends Groundbreaking Symposium

English Department Doctoral student Danielle Sottosanti represented Fordham University at the first Race before Race symposium, an event designed for medieval and early modern race scholars.


The two-day event, hosted by the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Arizona State University, featured scholars who are pushing their fields in new directions in the study of race, whether from archival, theoretical, or practical directions.

Speakers included Patricia Akhimie, David Sterling Brown, Seeta Chaganti, Urvashi Cahkravarty, Kim Hall, Jonathan Hsy, Dorothy Kim, Noémie Ndiaya, Shokoofeh Rajabzadeh, Carla Maria Thomas, Farah Karim-Cooper, and Cord Whitaker.

Sottosanti, whose Doctoral project explores the intersections of race, religion, and gender in the conversion narratives of medieval romance, enjoyed being a part of the symposium and supporting its more inclusive approaches to the study of race in the medieval and early modern world.

For more on the symposium, click here: Race before Race Symposium

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Fordham PhD Alum Celebrates Book Launch

Congratulations to Fordham Ph.D. recipient Dr. Michael Andindilile, now the Dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Dar es Salaam, who’s recent book launch received national recognition on iTV Tanzania.  


As Dr. Andindilile explains it, his book, The Anglophone Literary-Linguistic Continuum, explores “the various uses of the English language on the African environment to represent various and diverse experiences on the continent.”

After the panel discussion and celebration at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr. Andindilile expressed his joy and gratitude for the entire publishing process.  


“I’m grateful to enter the world of publishing because I used to think it was mission impossible, but now it’s mission possible.” 

With the publication of the book, Dr. Andindilile looks to the future and the positive impact he can have on young writers in Tanzania. “I know I can inspire others, and since my book came out, so many people are coming to see me, and I’ve been encouraging them. Also, I know I can mentor some of them, so they can also end up publishing."


Congratulations, once again, to Dr. Andindilile on this remarkable accomplishment. 

For more information about his book, click here:

Writing Contest Opportunity for Fordham Students

An exciting opportunity for Fordham students, undergraduate and graduate, comes our way through The Suzanna Cohen Legacy Foundation (SCLF), an organization devoted to collecting and preserving narratives about forced displacement—past and present—of survivors, refugees, immigrants, and exiles, as well as individuals or groups who offered support and succor. 

This contest, offered for the first time, is open only to Fordham students, undergraduates or graduates in any of our programs or schools.  Four prizes, each of $750, are to be awarded to creative works in four categories: writing, performance, visual art, and mixed media. There is a possibility of eventual publication as well. Submission deadline is February 20th.

To submit, go here: Suzanna Cohen Legacy Foundation Prizes.

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SCLF is a nonprofit founded by the family of Edward Cohen, whose mother fled the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 and three years later came to Tehran, where she met and married her husband and lived for close to forty years. She was exiled for a second time because of the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s.  

The foundation's particular association with Fordham came about thanks to Kim Dana Kupperman, a former writer-in-residence in the English Department who wrote a novel about the family's story, entitled  Six Thousand Miles to Home: A Novel Inspired by a True Story of World War II.  

Doctoral Student Field Report: From the School of Criticism and Theory

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This past summer, Josh Rome, a fourth-year English PhD student, attended the School of Criticism and Theory (SCT) at Cornell University. Josh participated in a six-week seminar on “Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory.” His time at SCT afforded him the chance to expand and refine his inquiry into Adorno’s aesthetic thought, which has proven particularly useful to Josh as he works on his dissertation, “Discursive Interventions: Ordinary Language Engagements in Postwar and Contemporary American Poetry.”

The SCT provides an unparalleled opportunity for students interested in intensive study in critical theory. Fordham GSAS sponsors one graduate student each summer, covering the SCT tuition and offering a cost-of-living stipend. The SCT holds four seminars each summer, each of which meets twice a week –– past seminars have focused on topics such as “Reading the Social World: Observation, Description, Interpretation,” “Intersubjective Acts: Psychoanalysis and Politics,” and “Genealogies of Memory and Perception: Literature and Photography.” In addition, the SCT hosts mini-seminars and guest lecturers throughout the session. Recent guest lectures include Homi Bhabha on “Statelessness and Death,” and Amanda Anderson on “Political Psychology: Theory and Doxa.”

In Josh’s experience, however, the intellectual life of the SCT extends far beyond the classroom or lecture hall. Students from various disciplines converge from around the world for the summer session, providing an invaluable opportunity for lively conversations among an array of fields and methodologies. Josh describes the experience as “more than just networking. It’s an ongoing conversation for six weeks about a field in which you’re deeply invested –– and this happens not just at the seminar table, but at picnics and social gatherings. It’s an experience you don’t get often.”

For more information about the STC’s upcoming 2019 session, including a list of seminars, mini-seminars, guest lecturers, and application requirements, please visit:

And click here for more information about Fordham’s Graduate English programs.

By John Miele

Creating a Digital Sugar-Cane at Fordham & Columbia

In the summer of 2018, Fordham English graduate students Lina Jiang and Stephen Fragano, along with Associate Professor of English Julie Chun Kim, collaborated with Columbia faculty and graduate students on a project called Digital Grainger. The Fordham-Columbia team’s goal was to build an online, accessible edition of James Grainger’s 1764 poem The Sugar-Cane

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Grainger’s poem, which describes eighteenth-century plantations in the Caribbean, has increasingly been recognized for its important insights into what is sometimes referred to as the “Sugar Revolution.” The intensive monoculture of sugar cane in the Caribbean destroyed local ecologies and required the mass exploitation of enslaved laborers, who were forcibly transported from Africa. The Sugar-Cane addresses the Sugar Revolution in detail because Grainger experienced it firsthand: he lived in the British sugar colony of St. Kitts from 1759 to 1766, and because he also married into a planter family, he had a vested interest in defending the institution of slavery. But because Grainger also was a physician and hoped that The Sugar-Cane would prove his expert knowledge of Caribbean medicinal plants, he filled his poem with lengthy footnotes that made frequent mention of Afro-Caribbean and indigenous uses of plants and interactions with nature. As a result, as Professor Kim explains, the poem “is an invaluable resource for gaining a better understanding of how oppressed subjects survived and resisted the plantation system.” 

The collaboration between Fordham and Columbia Universities on Digital Grainger was made possible by the Fordham-Columbia Research Fellow and Research Intern Program. This initiative provides funding for faculty and graduate students to work together across campuses on a shared research project. For Digital Grainger, the program provided Lina and Stephen with summer stipends so that they could dedicate time to working on the project with other team members. The Columbia team included Cristobal Silva, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature; Kimberly Takahata and Ami Yoon, PhD candidates in English and Comparative Literature; and Alex Gil, Digital Scholarship Librarian at Columbia University Libraries. Elizabeth Cornell, Director of Communications for Fordham IT, also participated in the project. 

Lina Jiang, Julie Kim, and Stephen Fragano

Lina Jiang, Julie Kim, and Stephen Fragano

In addition to giving participants from both universities the opportunity to expand their scholarly networks, the Digital Grainger project has resulted in the creation of a digital edition of The Sugar-Cane that contains multiple versions of the poem. First, the team created a “Full Text” edition that contains all 2561 lines of the original poem along with Grainger’s footnotes. It is accompanied by over 700 editorial footnotes co-written by the Digital Grainger team. Second, the edition features a scanned a copy of the 1764 poem in its “Page by Page” version, allowing readers ready access to the original edition. 

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Finally, each team member created what might be called a “thematic excerpt” of the poem: each excerpt contains a selection of passages from The Sugar-Cane, prefaced by a headnote that explains why they were chosen for inclusion. These excerpts, grouped under the heading “The Counter-Plantation,” are meant to help readers access the parts of the poem that describe survival, resistance, and rebellion on the plantation. Stephen focused his excerpt on “Animals,” which explores Grainger’s fearful troping of animals, including rats, as threats to the sugar cane crop.

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Lina focused her excerpts on the themes of “Fire” and “Sugar Work”: the former shows Grainger’s worries about enslaved laborers setting fire to cane fields, while the latter highlights both the mistreatment of enslaved workers and their extensive agricultural and technical knowledge of sugar refining (knowledge that planters relied upon). Lina first noticed these passages when she read The Sugar-Cane for Professor Kim’s fall 2017 graduate seminar, “Natural History and Ecology.” “I tried to provide deeper explanations for new readers of the poem,” Lina explains of her goal for the excerpts, “and ones that would help them challenge the poem’s support of the plantation system.” Digital Grainger demonstrates the English Department’s interest in continuing to pursue innovative scholarship: building on her experience with the project, Lina intends to include a digital project in her dissertation. 


Digital Grainger is almost complete and will go live later this semester. Meanwhile, scholarly collaboration between Fordham and Columbia continues to grow and develop. This semester, Lina is taking a course with Professor Silva at Columbia through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (IUDC), which allows PhD students at Fordham to take courses at Columbia, CUNY, NYU, Princeton, and Rutgers. Furthermore, members of the team will be presenting the results of their work at several conferences this coming year. In December 2018, Professor Kim will co-present a paper on the creation of Digital Grainger at the Caribbean Digital V conference at the University of the West Indies-St. Augustine. Together with Stephen, Professors Kim and Silva also have proposed a roundtable on using and teaching The Sugar-Canefor the February 2019 biennial meeting of the Society of Early Americanists. Just as their online edition of The Sugar-Cane will continue to inspire valuable new scholarship and rewarding experiences in classrooms, so the team’s work remains ongoing and productive, serving as a prime example of the kinds of exchanges that Fordham’s Graduate English students participate in on a regular basis. Click here for more information about Fordham’s Graduate English programs. 


By John Miele